The Hexacoto

Listening to the sound of one hand clapping

Tag: philosophy

How cheating has made me grow as a person and a gamer

Everyone deplores cheaters. The word ‘Gameshark’ is always muttered under dark breaths. The idea of getting something without having to work for it irks people.

OMG HAX

However, I’m here to sing a different tune. As a kid, when I discovered the joys of the clunky plug-in Gameshark device for the Playstation 1 as a kid, I was thrilled by the countless possibilities. Oh I can finally get that KOTR materia without all that nasty chocobo inbreeding now. Oh 1337 stats and infinite items? Yes please!

And thus began my cruise onto the internets to source for hundreds and hundreds of hexadecimal codes, all those 8001117D etc. which I copied dutifully by hand onto paper and then manually inserted into the device. Yes, through using the Gameshark device, I learnt what the hexadecimal system was in fifth grade, and learnt about the basics of programming, and how tweaking numbers can change values in a game. I learnt that things in a game, such as stats and items, correspond

But strangely, even as I infinite-HP’d my way through Monster Rancher, I didn’t get the satisfaction I thought I would. Oh sure, being able to plough through the games without the fear of dying was thrilling. As Winston Churchill once said, “There’s nothing quite as exhilarating as being shot at and missed” and indeed this exhilaration gripped me initially. I was practically omnipotent, with infinite resources at my disposal.

Yet, after a while, I opted for max HP/MP cheats instead of infinite HP/MP, because the games got too easy. I would look for codes that maxed my life that could be depleted instead of an infinite one. Slowly, I rescinded on the codes I used. Instead of a max all stats cheat, I would perhaps only max just one aspect. Soon after, I stopped using stat altering cheats and went for unlocking exclusive feats (unlockables, hard-to-obtain items etc).

Till today, I don’t really regret that I used a Gameshark to get a Mew in Monster Rancher 2 simply because I didn’t have a ‘Madonna the Immaculate Collection’ CD to spawn it.

This….

…spawns this. True story. Why? I dunno.

The point is, when everything was so easily available through cheating, I began to appreciate the value of effort more. Through being able to easily obtain Arceus and Darkrai on Pokemon Diamond/Pearl made me realize that their availability made them no more precious than a regular Bidoof or Zubat. Thus, to make my Pokemon experience special, I discovered EV training (I wasn’t a very good competitive trainer but going on that journey was interesting) and the Pikachu with the Volt Tackle that I got from the (crappy) Wii Game ‘Pokemon Battle Revolution’ as the first Pokemon I ever EV trained (and Ditto-raped for nature). I still kept all the rare Pokemon I cheated with for collection purposes, as I realize I would probably never be in Japan when promotions reel around, but within this game, residing side-by-side with the ill-gotten Pokemon, were Pokemon I put so much effort and time with. My Diamond cartridge truly felt like a culmination of experience, of learning through the disappointment I got through cheating, the determination I gained about the value of effort and so forth.

Many gamers decry the methods of cheaters, but in the writings of John Stuart Mill’s ‘On Liberty’, through a ‘free marketplace of ideas’ where both the good and the bad opinions are allowed to be aired, the good shines in comparison through conflict with the erred and to deprive truth and good that opportunity would be to do people a disservice. Cheaters have the potential to learn the value of effort and hard work through cheating too.

I suppose in real-world situations, it’s not as if the actions of an individual gamer has no social implications, especially in today’s gaming situations, with MMOs on the rise, cheating and bots do impinge on the gaming experience of other people and that’s when things go bad. Nobody wants to play a game with a person who has gold farmed from a bot or a gold farmer and upsets the meta-economy. My cheating history was a mostly cloistered one, since I wasn’t rich enough to play MMOs. Battling online on Pokemon though, can be where the “do no harm” principle flounders sadly like a Magikarp — one does see outrageously hacked “hackmons” while battling, and the ones without a cheating device is usually left disadvantaged.

It seems that the concept of cheating has gained more consequences with the rise of socially-integrating games then. The motif of the Mills ‘Harm principle’ where “The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins” becomes challenged more and more as games develop, but it also brought into the discussion some merits of cheating that would have otherwise been overlooked.

Originally written on 27th December 2010 on 1up.com, edited for content and clarity.

The value of philosophy

I’ve heard it said before that the purpose of philosophy is to solve the problems and conditions of the human mind. Philosophy seeks to find truth, understand how we get truth and the why we get it. But when those who do philosophy get so enmeshed with finding simply finding truth and lose sight of the how and why and what for, is there purpose to their philosophy?

Consider this: Compare classical philosophy, from the times of Socrates to Descartes, and today’s modern academic philosophy. There is a stark difference in what each is trying to seek and for what purpose.

Yesterday, I had a discussion with a friend who did philosophy in college. We were comparing three things: classical philosophy, academic philosophy and commercial philosophy, which comes in the form popular books for consumer’s purpose such as Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

I asked him, do you think classical philosophy is superior to commercial philosophy, comparing the two? He said that both have their merits, but consumer philosophy adds nothing new to the literature; they’re simply taking what exists and people already know and packaging it in a way that people can understand. By that virtue, they are making philosophy accessible to the public, which is a good thing. Classical philosophy on the other hand sought to explore what people didn’t know and tried to explain them, even if they sometimes got them wrong. Both are still philosophy, because both still reach truths and conclusion using similar methods.

Then I asked him, what about academic philosophy these days, where they are constantly adding new things to the literature all the time, but what they do seems to be so obscure and so dense that many of them appear to have no apparent value to the society? I asked him, what good is philosophy if it serves no purpose to the society? He agreed that philosophy should have a purpose, and we both felt that many-a-times academic philosophy seeks truth and adds it to the literature simply because they’re expected to and because they can, even if the ‘truth’ discovered has little relevance to our lives.

Commercial philosophy, even if by dint of its commercial nature, has to make its material easily digestible by the reader. At least it tries to serve purpose to society. In comparison, academic philosophy doesn’t even try to make itself readable to even other academics. Bad writing and unclear direction in so many modern philosophical texts begs the question: For whom are they writing philosophy?

Some modern philosophy reveal a lot about the condition of our modern selves, but for every one good one, there exists a lot of other PhD theses that write texts akin to intellectual masturbation.

No wonder we get the sentiment of “Philosophy is a useless field of study” from the masses these days, because philosophy as made itself irrelevant.

Philosophers were well-respected in the past; no one would have dismissed the great thinkers of Nietzsche or Wittgenstein, for they were concerned about the society they live in and sought to de-construct the way society was, and hoped to allow people to understand the way they operated. Be it philosophy of religion, language, politics or science, it added an extra edge to simply practising religion, speaking language, participating in politics or conducting science. It allowed for the development of ethics, philology, and other branches of thought that make these respective fields more humane.

While I’m pretty sure a text like “Hegellian Responses to the Post-Surrealist Inclinations of Photography over Traditional Painting” (I made this up) could make for an interesting read, I’m not sure it would ever be as helpful as a book that rehashes hackneyed interpretations of Zen Buddhism as applicable to motorcycle repair.